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A bulk carrier was hit by the Iran-backed Houthis in the Red Sea, south-west of Yemen's port city of Mokha, British maritime security company Ambrey reported on Monday, marking the first such attack in five days.
Two missiles hit the Marshall Islands-flagged, Greek-owned vessel in the space of two minutes as it was sailing through Bab Al Mandeb, the company said.
Ambrey reported damage to the vessel but no casualties.
The UK Maritime Trade Operations agency said it received a report of a ship being hit by two missiles 74km (40 nautical miles) south of Mokha.
It said the crew were unharmed and the vessel was proceeding to its next port of call.
Ambrey said the ship was believed to be headed to the Iranian city of Bandar Imam Khomeini in the south-west of the country.
“The group owner and operator regularly trade bulk cargo with Iran, so this was assessed to be the likely destination,” the company added.
The group owner of the ship was listed on the Nasqaq stock market in the US, which was the probably reason for the attack, it said.
Yemen's Houthis said they will continue to “escalate” attacks on shipping in the Red Sea, against what they claim are Israel, US and UK-linked targets, as long as Israel continues its war on Gaza.
But some maritime security experts believe the Houthis are furthering their own political agenda by taking advantage of the war there.
“Since the 19th of November the Houthis have seized on a convenient narrative that played into something they wanted – they've opportunistically taken advantage of the Palestinian situation and made it a cause that aligned into their own interests, hypocritically so,” Ian Ralby, chief executive of maritime security consultancy IR Consilium, said at a US congressional hearing this month.
The Houthis took over the Yemeni capital Sanaa in 2014, and currently control areas of the most densely populated parts of the country.
The group began its Red Sea attacks in November as it was facing increasing unpopularity in Yemen, said Maysaa Shuja Al Deen, a senior researcher with the Sanaa Centre for Strategic Studies.